Friday, September 27, 2013

The Glass Half Full

autumn brilliance

There certainly has been a lot of things swirling around in the world over the past few days. As I read the paper and listen to the news I think to myself, "So is the glass half empty or is it half full?" Do the events of the past days point to new life and hope, or are they portents of a nation, a society and world on the brink of ultimate disaster? 

From one point of view, the glass is certainly emptying out - nothing but more misery on the horizon. The conflict in Egypt still flares, and in Syria, millions of refugees continue to flee from their homeland. In Kenya- there has been the senseless, brutal mall massacre with a warning that a U.S. mall may be the next terrorist target, in the United States Capitol - the Navy Yard shootings, and a congress so dysfunctional that some politicians would rather shut down the government and disable the economy rather than support the presidents's health care program. 

I could easily see how one might look at the world and see an empty glass- causing people to live everyday life with fear and trepidation over when the "next shoe will drop." 

But there is another side to this coin, and another way of looking at the glass. For me, I actually think the glass of life is half full (and getting fuller). Even amidst the chaos and destruction, I see signs of life and hope everywhere (and I am not an eternal optimist,  nor have I ever been "a pollyanna" in my view of the world).

Just a few weeks ago the war drums were sounding; and the world was on the brink of war- an inevitable American bombing of Syria. Yesterday journalists and pundits were shaking their heads in amazement over the fact that, not only were bombings diverted, but the United Nations Security Council came to an unprecedented agreement over a peaceful settlement with Syria over the removal of their chemical weapons. 

Just yesterday, sitting face to face in a meeting room at the United Nations, high level American and Iranian officials also had an "unprecedented" conversation about a nuclear arms treaty. Again, the pundits and the journalists were shaking their heads in amazement. That kind of reasonable dialogue between Iran and the U.S. hadn't happened in 40 years (not since the Iranian "Hostage Crisis").  Social commentators referred to yesterday's talks as a "milestone."

The pope has also weighed in recently- tipping the scales toward the "half-full glass" view of the world,  when he said that the church needs to be more concerned about love and less obsessed by dogma, doctrine or moral teachings.

Every day I get out of bed and go out into my everyday world, and of course, I find people who are obnoxious and self-servng.  But I also encounter plenty of other people of good will - people who care about others, people who are kind and willing to help their fellows make a path through the wilderness of life. And, on the whole, I'd say the people of gentle, good will outnumber the self-consuming takers and haters. 

MartinLuther King Jr. once said:

The arc of the moral universe is long, 
but it bends towards justice.

I think there is great wisdom and ultimate truth in Dr, King's teaching.

I personally do not believe in some anthropomorphic, superman God watching over us and shielding or protecting us from evil, chaos and harm. But I very much believe that the direction of the universe does indeed bend towards love. I believe in an abiding Holy Presence, an energy of abiding love connecting  us and flowing in and through us- drawing us into ultimate harmony. The pattern in all the chaos is "love" - a love that will not let us go. 

I have no doubt that there will be more disasters, wars, shootings, acts of terror and destruction in the days ahead. But the scales are tipped - the arc of the universe is bent toward love. 

The glass is half-full and it's getting fuller.

So, I am not afraid. I can live with courage. I am a person of hope.

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